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March 30th, 2017

A Night to Remember: Saying Goodbye to Plastic Bags at Town Meeting

A Night to Remember: Saying Goodbye to Plastic Bags at Town Meeting Groovy Green Livin

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived in Massachusetts for over 20 years (how is that possible?!) and I’ve NEVER been to a Town Meeting until this week.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about let me fill you in.

What is Town Meeting?

Participating in a Town Meeting is democracy at its best. Registered voters gather together to voice opinions and directly effect change in the community. The Annual Town Meeting is generally held in the spring to enact the following year’s budget, plus whatever other matters are placed on the Town Meeting warrant, either by the Selectmen or by citizen petition. Cities and towns throughout the US each have their own form of democracy and it could look very different from what we have here.

After the election this past November I decided to make an effort to become more involved on a local level. After all, that’s where it all begins.

I kicked off my involvement by marching in Boston with thousands and became truly inspired to do more. I wrote a political post which is pretty out of character for me. One of the suggestions I shared was to “get to work on a local level and elect/appoint those who are like-minded and care.”

So I decided to heed my own advice and off I went to my first Town Meeting.

Sitting down beside a friend I took a look around at the full house and couldn’t help but think that every one of these people had taken time out of their busy schedules to be there.

They knew something that I was just discovering: that their voice mattered. Coming to Town Meeting was a simple way to voice opinions, listen to others and vote on matters that would help shape our community.

Wow. How had I missed this opportunity for so many years?

Vote to Ban Plastic Bags

A Night to Remember: Saying Goodbye to Plastic Bags at Town Meeting Groovy Green Livin

Aside from my general interest in participating in the process there were a few articles up for discussion and a vote that caught my attention. I was most interested in the proposed plastic bag ban. From water bottles to plastic wrap, I’ve been writing about the detrimental effects of plastic for years.

There’s no denying that plastic bags are polluting our environment. It’s hard to miss the enormous number of plastic bags swirling around in local parking lots and water ways. The bags never fully decompose and remain a significant threat to marine animals and other wild life.

Over 40 other communities in Massachusetts have passed bylaws to reduce the use of thin-film plastic bags.

I’m proud to share that after a lengthy discussion the bylaw passed and plastic bags are now banned. The bylaw doesn’t alleviate all plastic bags from circulation, but it’s a great start. The ban applies to those thin plastic bags we receive at the grocery check-out.

What you can do

Now we all need to do two things:

  1. Focus on remembering reusable bags when we shop.
  2. Add your community’s Town Meeting (or whatever form of democracy your city or town subscribes to) to your calendar.

Given that there’s been a tremendous amount of municipal support, it’s my hope that Massachusetts will enact a statewide plastic bag ban in the near future.

The plastic bag ban is a baby step, but a step in the right direction and I’m proud to have been a small part of the process.

What form of government is there in your city or town? Is there a Mayor? City Council? Town Meeting? How do you participate?


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our FREE Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

 

March 9th, 2017

It’s Time to Ditch Your Reusable Plastic Water Bottle

It's Time to Ditch Your Reusable Plastic Water Bottle Groovy Green LivinIt’s time! Line up your reusable plastic water bottles and please (pretty please) STOP using them.

I’ve been secretly cringing for years when I see someone drinking from a brightly colored, BPA-free reusable plastic water bottle. Reusable plastic water bottles are a dime a dozen at my gym, sit alongside yoga mats in my yoga studio and crowd the classroom in my son’s karate class. They are everywhere. And I get it. Plastic water bottles are easier to transport than glass or even stainless steel. They generally don’t dent or break and drinking from them is a breeze. Placing those conveniences aside, plastic water bottles come with a list of possible health hazards and the list isn’t pretty.

It's Time to Ditch Your Reusable Plastic Water Bottle Groovy Green Livin

Removing BPA from plastics was a good start, but it’s not enough

A few years ago we learned that BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical that’s been linked in lab studies to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Now we’re discovering that  “BPA-free” doesn’t mean it’s safe“. Once BPA was found to be toxic, retailers and brands began replacing it with substitutes that could be just as dangerous. Many manufacturers have replaced BPA with something called fluorene-9-bisphenol, or BHPF. In a recent study, it was found that BHPF has the potential to cause fertility problems.

When you buy a plastic water bottle it doesn’t come with a list of “ingredients” so it’s virtually impossible to know what they’re made from.

Time to ditch the plastic

The information is starting to stack up against plastic reusable water bottles. Even those companies that have phased out BPA could still be using a chemical that has almost the same negative health impact on our bodies-hormone disruption. As the evidence continues to mount showing that plastic water bottles could be dangerous why not be proactive and make the switch to stainless steel or glass water bottles?

A few of my favorite non-plastic reusable water bottles

I have a few favorite reusable water bottles to share. Take a peek HERE.

There’s another favorite reusable water bottle to add to the list. Klean Kanteen let me do a test run with their new insulated (cold drinks only) Reflect reusable water bottle. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and I love that it’s completely plastic free. The lid is made from bamboo and stainless steel, and the bottle is completely stainless with a silicone seal.

Do you avoid reusable plastic water bottles? How about BPA free products? 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our FREE Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you I may get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. 
November 10th, 2014

Why You Should Never Put Plastic in the Dishwasher

Groovy Green Livin plastic in dishwasher

Have you ever accidentally opened your dishwasher in the middle of a cycle? It’s like an instant facial. The steam and heat emitted are enough to make you jump back and close the door quickly.

The water is hot so your dishes are cleaned with minimal elbow grease. Did you know the water must be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit and not more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit for the best cleaning and to prevent damage to the dishes? That’s hot water!

What do you put in your dishwasher?

We have a relatively new dishwasher and for some reason it seems smaller than our older version. I still do my best to jam as many dishes into the dishwasher as I possibly can for a single load. Everything from plates to glasses to flatware goes right in without much of a rinse.

Over the years I’ve really weaned myself off of plastic in the kitchen. I’ve tried hard to reduce the amount of plastic touching our food in any way. For the few plastic items still remaining, they get washed by hand.

My rule: never put anything plastic in the dishwasher. And here’s why….

Heat and plastic are a bad mix

Repeated wear and tear on plastic, including running plastic through the dishwasher, could cause BPA, Phthalates and other chemicals to leach out of the plastic when heated.

Hormone-disrupting chemicals leach from almost all plastics, even BPA-free plastics. Heating the plastic (stressing it) may cause more leaching of the chemicals. 

Phthalates

Phthalates are chemicals used as softeners or plasticizers in polyvinyl chloride (PVC, vinyl) products and can be found in hundreds of products: pre-2009 toys, wallpaper, cling wrap, shower curtains, plastic PVC containers, nail polish, perfume, blood bags, cosmetics, personal care products, shampoos, carpeting, wood finishes and insecticides (the list could go on and on).

Phthalates have been shown to disrupt hormone activity, reduce sperm counts and some preliminary studies show that they may be causing a slow and steady demasculinizing of men. Other studies have linked phthalates to liver cancer and breast cancer.

Unfortunately manufacturers aren’t required to list phthalates on products. Look out for “PVC,” “V” or the”3″ recycling code on the bottom of anything plastic.

BPA

As many of us know by now BPA is bad news. It’s a hormone-disrupting chemical that’s been linked in lab studies to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

And if that wasn’t enough there’s more:  “BPA-free” doesn’t mean it’s safe“. As new alternatives to BPA are popping up all over the place we have little information about their impact on our health.

The Bottom line

Hormone-disrupting chemicals leach from almost all plastics, even BPA-free plastics.

Plastics are more likely to leach toxic chemicals when they’re heated or exposed to light.

I think I would rather hand wash plastics than risk those nasty chemicals leaching into my food.  How about you?

Are you ready to hand wash those plastic dishes?

 


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photo credit: Skakerman via photopin cc

October 3rd, 2013

5 Simple Steps to a Greener Life – VIDEO

 

Groovy Green Livin Greener

Remember when I traveled to New York to film 5 short videos for Manilla covering the many ways we can all lead a greener life?

The first video is ready to share! I would love to hear what you think.

Simple Steps to a Greener Life

If you’re not a green king or queen, switching to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle can be daunting. Fortunately, there are simple ways to reduce your environmental impact without drastically impacting your daily life.

1.     Phase out plastics from your home—especially those used for food storage:

Plastics can leak harmful toxic chemicals into our food, which can affect our long-term health. Switch to glass storage containers to ensure that your food stays fresh and you stay healthy.

2.     Switch to reusable bags:

The next time you visit the supermarket, bring along reusable bags. Leave them in the front seat of your car or in another visible spot so that you remember them. Not only will you be saving the environment, but you’ll also be reducing the clutter in your home.

3.     Start using non-toxic cleaning products:

Conventional cleaning products are filled with toxic chemicals that don’t belong in your home. Instead, try to find brands that don’t contain harsh chemicals like. ammonia, synthetic fragrance, chlorine bleach, parabens and phosphates, or consider making your own cleaning supplies.

4.     Replace your personal care items with safe, non-toxic alternatives:

The most eco-friendly way to a greener life is to replace items with environmentally conscious alternatives as you run out of them. When your shampoos or other personal care items run low, replace them with non-toxic products like those found on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. If a product has a high hazard score, it shouldn’t be coming in contact with your body.

5.     Leave your shoes at the door:

While the Jones’ lawn might be green, it’s also full of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. All of those toxins march right into your living space when you wear your shoes from outdoors into your home. Create a space outside or in the garage where you can kick off your shoes until the next time you venture outside.

I would love to hear your steps for a greener life! 

The video is also airing on the Manilla blog and at Yahoo! Finance. More videos are coming so stay tuned! 

photo credit: epSos.de via photopin cc

January 30th, 2013

Why is There Plastic Wrap on That?

Groovy Green Livin Why is there plastic wrapPlastic wrap is my nemesis.  Have you ever asked yourself  ‘why is there plastic wrap on that?’

I have never touted myself as perfect when it comes to green living, but there are some things that seem so simple, so intuitive that it’s beyond me why they happen.

Take for example this organic cucumber that I recently bought at the market. Yes, it was wrapped in plastic wrap.

Groovy Green Livin Why is there plastic wrap

My kids love cucumbers and this was the only organic version available. I’m having a hard time with this one. Plastic wrap on a cucumber? It reminds me of Del Monte wrapping their organic bananas in plastic. They added a layer of plastic wrap to a fruit that comes with its own natural, biodegradable packaging. Cucumbers, like bananas, have a peel. Maybe its not as thick as a banana peel, but still.

Needlessly covering fruits and vegetables with plastic wrap is an enormous waste. Also (and probably more important on my end) I really don’t want plastic touching anything I’m going to eat.

So I was torn. Standing there in the supermarket staring at the fruits and vegetables I saw a sea of plastic wrap. My choice was to buy the organic cucumber or leave it behind. I opted for the cucumber along with the plastic wrap.

I wonder if plastic wrap is really necessary for packing fruits and vegetables? If packaging is needed for transporting produce there must be a better alternative.

What do you think about plastic packaging on a cucumber or any other fruit or vegetable?

Wordless Wednesday, a simple post which features photos to convey a message that speaks for itself without using many words.

In honor of  not-so Wordless Wednesday I’ve linked up with Better in Bulk, Dagmar’s MomsenseLive and Love Out Loud, Project AliciaMama Dweeb, and I Thought I Knew Mama.

photo credit: Ksayer1 via photopin cc

August 14th, 2012

{Review and Giveaway} Refuse Plastic with Stainless Steel Cups and Straws

 

Groovy Green Livin Live Essential Safe Products

The ESP family. Hannah, the company President, is in red.

Essential Safe Products(ESP) has been a long-time supporter of Groovy Green Livin and I’m honored to have them on board. The site was started by a Florida mother of six who has always been dedicated to providing a healthy and safe environment for her family. She created ESP as a one-stop, easy and friendly resource for those looking to learn about and lead a non-toxic lifestyle in the kitchen and on-the-go. The site is great-offering a large selection of kitchenware and many other products that are free from toxic chemicals.

Groovy Green Livn Essential Safe ProductsThe site is filled with many non-toxic and eco-friendly products. Slowly I’ve been replacing things in my home with safer alternatives and ESP’s been helping me through the process. I’ve been using the glass Lifefactory water bottle for quite a while and it’s wonderful. I also ordered a few stainless steel cookie sheets and finally ditched the last non-stick holdouts in my kitchen.

Replacing plastic cups

Groovy Green Livin Klean Kanteen Stainless CupOver the years I’ve replaced our plastic kiddie cups with glass. We have some nice glasses that we keep higher up on the shelves and then there are the ‘kid’ friendly glasses that are strategically placed within reach for the shorter (aka those under 12) people in our house. The glasses on the lower shelves generally have a life expectancy under 1 month.  They are dropped regularly and replaced frequently.

Stainless steel Klean Kanteen Pint Cup

When Hannah from Essential Safe Products offered to send me a Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Pint Cup I was so excited. Finally a solution to the frequent glass shattering on the kitchen floor. After using this cup for a few weeks I have fallen head-over-heels in love.  It’s durable, reusable, BPA-free, stackable and can be thrown in the dishwasher with the rest of our Klean Kanteen water bottles.  The cup is perfect for the beach -no paper or plastic cups needed-and it keeps our drinks nice and cold.

No more plastic straws. Try RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Straws – pack of 4

Groovy Green Livin Stainless Steel Straws

Stainless steel straws at Hannah's wedding!

Everyone knows that an organic smoothie tastes better with a straw-or at least my kids think so.

Groovy Green Livin The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards - GRAMMY Gift Lounge - Day 3

Neil Patrick Harris

We’ve been trying to kick the plastic straw habit for quite some time, but to no avail. It’s hard to say no at a restaurant with three kids in tow. ESP to the rescue. I received 4 RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Straws to try out. They are fantastic. I can throw them in my bag and they are ready for the next drink or smoothie that comes my way. They are dishwasher safe, reusable, and help our family avoid single-use plastic straws. My only concern is that they will get dirty or grimy inside over time and they’ll be impossible to clean-but it hasn’t happened yet.

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at ESP- they are giving one Groovy Green Livin reader:

  • 1 Stainless Steel Pint Cup
  • 4 Stainless Steel Straws
  • 2 Reusable produce bags (the same bags given to celebrities at the GRAMMYs and Oscars!!)

By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My friend Stephanie is also hosting an Essential Safe Products(ESP) giveaway. Head on over to her site, Good Girl Gone Green, and enter to win a Rebel Green Organic Cotton lunch tote.

Disclosure: ESP generously sent me a Klean Kanteen Pint and 4 Stainless Steel Straws to test out. The opinions are my very own.

June 12th, 2012

BPA Free Isn’t Enough

Groovy Green Livin Campbell's Soup BPA

For the past seven years, BPA has been on the minds of parents, consumers and public health advocates. I’ve been following the BPA issue closely and devoted much of my writing to this topic. I was even interviewed by ABC World News about the FDA’s decision not to ban BPA. There have been some wonderful victories during the seven years, including 11 states taking action to ban BPA from baby products.

BPA in food packaging and canned foods

Since a groundbreaking study co-published by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute showed that food packaging was a major source of BPA exposure, consumers have started to shift their attention to BPA in canned food.  The study found dangerous levels of BPA were even found in a wide variety of canned foods specifically marketed towards kids. Over the past year, consumers sent more than 70,000 messages to canned food companies telling them to stop using BPA and to replace it with a safer alternative.

The good news is that many companies are starting to listen. Muir Glen tomatoes, Trader Joe’s and Eden Foods have all been credited with eliminating BPA from some of their can linings. I recently wrote about Campbell’s announcing its plan to move away from BPA.

Removing BPA is a start, but not enough

Removing BPA from can linings is a great start, but it’s still not enough. With the exception of Eden Foods, most companies have not been transparent about the alternatives they will use in place of BPA. The information is nowhere to be found on their websites.

We want companies to know that “BPA-free” isn’t enough. As new alternatives to BPA are discovered some troubling information has been uncovered.  The notoriously bad plastic PVC is an FDA-approved alternative for BPA in can linings, despite the fact that vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen.

That’s why the Breast Cancer Fund’s Cans Not Cancer campaign is demanding that manufacturers publicly disclose what they’re using instead of BPA so that we, as consumers, know what we’re eating. We understand the challenges of moving away from BPA, but that makes it all the more important for manufacturers to be transparent about the chemicals they’re using instead and the review process that led them to that particular alternative.

Campbell’s needs disclose what BPA alternatives they’ll use

Still no word from Campbell’s, so today (June 12) the Breast Cancer Fund launched a social media day of action, demanding that Campbell’s make public what BPA alternatives it is using or plans to use. Our message is that Campbell’s decision to move away from BPA is a victory for consumers, who have been demanding this change, but to truly be an industry leader, the company needs to fully disclose the alternatives that will be used.

What you can do

Just say no to plastic.

The study released by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute shows shows that we can reduce our BPA exposure significantly by cooking fresh foods at home, avoiding canned foods, choosing glass and stainless steel food and beverage containers, and not microwaving in plastic.

Post on your Facebook page

We are all sharing posts on our Facebook pages to hopefully get Campbell’s attention. Here’s a sample post:

•    Think BPA-Free means safe? Think again. Learn more at http://www.breastcancerfund.org/big-picture-solutions/make-our-products-safe/cans-not-cancer/faq.html

Post to Twitter

Get the word out through your Twitter account. Here’s a sample Tweet:

•    #BPA free does not=safe. Tell us companies: what are you using instead? Is it safe? http://bit.ly/BPA-FAQ  #CansNotCancer

Get involved

There’s no way to completely avoid BPA until Congress passes the Safe Chemicals Act, which will require chemical manufacturers to show their products are safe before they end up in the things we buy. The chemical industry has acknowledged the need for federal reform of the chemical policy to restore public confidence in the safety of their products.  Now they just need to do something about it.

If you would like to help- check out the many ways to GET INVOLVED over at Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Breast Cancer Fund, Healthy Child Healthy World and Moms Clean Air Force.

Do you avoid BPA? How about BPA free products?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Pittaya/Flickr]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, writer, mom of three boys and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Join me as we work together to make the world a safer place for all.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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